View Full Version : First Case Of Deadly Asian Bird Flu Feared In Finland

08-27-2005, 07:34 PM
First case of deadly Asian bird flu feared in Finland


Rob Waugh

THE first case of a potentially deadly strain of bird flu may have been detected in Europe.

Finnish authorities fear they had found the virus in a gull in the north of the country, meaning that the potentially deadly strain of bird flu has arrived on the European continent.

The Nordic country's Agriculture Ministry said the case involved a gull near the city of Oulu, 370 miles north of Helsinki.

Final results of tests are expected in three weeks and it was not immediately clear if the strain of bird flu involved is the same as the one circulating in Asia and Russia, which scientists fear has the potential to start a global human pandemic that could kill millions.

If tests prove the flu to be the H5N1 strain ravaging the poultry industry in Asia, it would be the first recorded instance of it in Europe.

The discovery emerged a day after experts warned that migrating birds will bring the deadly strain of the flu to Britain.

Some estimates have suggested up to 50 million people worldwide would be killed by the virus.

Testing and surveillance of the European bird population is already being stepped up after the virus spread to Russia.

Two days ago, British Veterinary Association president Bob McCracken said: "It is inevitable that bird flu will be carried to this country by migrating birds." Dr McCracken called for free range birds and water fowl, such as ducks and geese, to be tested, as they would be most at risk of catching the virus from migrating birds.

However, the Government's Chief Veterinary Officer, Debby Reynolds, has also said there was little evidence to show that migrating birds could spread the virus to Britain. Dr Reynolds also played down Dr McCracken's warnings, insisting that the current risk was "remote or low".

She said veterinary experts had concluded that Britain should not follow the decision by Holland earlier this week to order all poultry to be reared indoors to reduce the risk of them catching the virus from wild birds.
27 August 2005